September 16th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Locally grown organic watermelons are on the way out. We’re fast approaching the tail end of peak season.
While melons may be available year-round, know what you’re buying. The U.S. peak season runs from May to September. If you purchase a watermelon between October and April, odds are you’re buying an imported fruit that has traveled a long way to reach your table. This reduces freshness and increases your carbon footprint.
Take advantage of the final 2010 bounty: September’s crops, which are grown primarily in Central California, Oklahoma and Texas.
Today’s recipe will appeal to adults and children alike, and it’s a heart-healthy alternative to chips and pretzels. Also check out our recently posted recipes for Grilled Spicy Watermelon and Watermelon and Tomato Salad.
Read More:Organic Watermelon Dippers
September 4th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Planning a Labor Day barbecue?
Transform sweet organic watermelon into a savory side dish with a Thai-inspired sauce.
Grill watermelon wedges until they’re caramelized, drizzle them with the tangy sauce, and garnish with fresh organic cilantro. The recipe can accompany ribs, chicken or shrimp.
All of the ingredients should be available at a well-stocked natural and organic food store. Enjoy!
Read More:Grilled Spicy Watermelon
August 27th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Organic watermelon is a nutritional best bet, with more than 1,200 varieties available for savvy snacking. Farmers in 44 states grow these juicy members of the Cucurbitaceae plant family, with Georgia, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona leading the pack.
Here are 10 reasons to head to the summer produce aisle.
1. Get your vitamins—naturally
A 2-cup serving of watermelon is an excellent source of vitamins A and C:
- Vitamin A is critical for optimal eye health. A 2-cup serving of watermelon contains 25% of your daily requirement.
- Vitamin C helps bolster the immune system. A 2-cup serving of watermelon contains 30% of your daily requirement.
2. Potassium is your BFF
Potassium helps maintain water balance. If your potassium level is low, you may experience muscle cramps.
A 2-cup serving of watermelon provides 270 mg potassium: 8% of your daily requirement. A watermelon is also more than 90% water, so a few cups will help you stay hydrated.
3. Watermelon is heart-healthy
Watermelon contains amino acids that help maintain healthy arteries and blood flow.
“With its naturally sweet taste, watermelon can be a wonderful way to get more fruit into a sensible low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol diet,” says Maureen Storey, PhD, former director of the Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy at the University of Maryland.
4. It helps protect you against cancer
Red-fleshed watermelon contains high concentrations of lycopene, an antioxidant that helps reduce cancer risk. A 1.5-cup serving contains 14 to 15 mg lycopene, according to plant physiologist Penelope Perkins-Veazie, PhD, a professor at the Plants for Human Health Institute at North Carolina State University. The redder the watermelon, the more lycopene it offers.
5. Pour me a drink
Because of its high water content, watermelon is a perfect addition to drinks like Watermelon Lemonade (right) and Three-Melon Smoothie.
As with our story on making lemon-flavored ice cubes, you can create watermelon ice cubes (above) by pureeing the melon’s flesh and freezing it in ice cube trays.
6. Watermelon is kid-friendly
Few children will turn down a slice of juicy watermelon, so make it a part of their regular fruit and veggie intake. Be creative in the kitchen. Let your kids use a melon baller to form watermelon spheres.
7. Baby, you can drive my car
Place cubes of melon in travel containers for hydration and a nutritional boost during long car trips. Bring napkins!
8. Watermelon shines at organic picnics
Dishes like Watermelon Salad with Thai Basil and Feta will please your adult guests, while Watermelon and Tomato Salad and Poppy Seed Fruit Salad will appeal to both children and adults.
Labor Day is almost here. Make an Americana Basket (above) for backyard barbecues and potlucks.
9. Get thee to a farmers’ market
Buy locally grown organic produce to support family farmers. Willie Nelson will thank you.
Not sure where your local farmers’ market is located? Local Harvest will solve this problem in a jiff.
10. Grow your own
Kits like Ecosource’s Organic Grow Your Own Seedling Starter Kits are great gift items, and they make the job easy. More advanced gardeners can pick up a copy of Amy Goldman’s Melons for the Passionate Grower.
Photos: Jermaine Justice, Wyscan, kokopinto, nsaplayer, Chris Breeze, ccharmon, xlorddashx, National Watermelon Promotion Board, McCormick, Suddenly Salad
Follow me on Twitter: @BarbGoesOrganic
Read More:10 Reasons to Buy Organic Watermelon
June 9th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Crisp watermelon, juicy tomatoes and fresh basil create a refreshingly light salad, especially when splashed with balsamic vinegar.
Just cut up the ingredients, and store them in separate containers. Toss the salad right before serving to keep flavors fresh.
All of the ingredients in today’s recipe should be available at a well-stocked natural and organic food store.
Watermelon and Tomato Salad
Makes 10 (1/2-cup) servings
4 cups scooped-out watermelon balls or chunks
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste
1/3 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese, optional
- In bowl, combine watermelon, onion, tomatoes and basil.
- Whisk together oil and vinegar, and toss with salad. Season to taste.
- Refrigerate until serving. Top with crumbled cheese, if desired.
Recipe and photo courtesy of the American Chemistry Council
Read More:Watermelon and Tomato Salad
May 3rd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
If your mom loves to garden—or if you’d like to help her get started—pick up a container or two of Ecosource’s Organic Grow Your Own Seedling Starter Kits for Mother’s Day.
Nine USDA-certified organic varieties are available for last-minute shoppers (ground, 2-day or overnight shipping):
- Bell Pepper
- Heirloom Tomato
A Strawberry Kit is also available, but the seedlings are not organic.
Each kit ($15.99) contains instructions, an eco-friendly tray, high-quality soil, a reusable “greenhouse bag” and biodegradable seedling starter shells, all housed in a decorative container.
Users can start up to 10 seedlings and then transplant them into their gardens.
Ecosource founders Chad Callihan and Chuck Rose quit the corporate world and started the Decatur, GA-based company in 2006 to develop stylish, affordable and eco-friendly products.
“We’re not trying to be perfect, but we’re learning every day about how to make better choices for ourselves and the future of our children’s planet,” they state. “We hope that by sharing our experience, you’ll want to do the same.”
Read More:Mother’s Day Gift Idea: Start an Organic Garden
February 27th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Feta cheese added pizzazz to yesterday’s recipe for Watermelon Salad with Thai Basil and Feta. Today, milder mozzarella takes center stage in our second featured organic watermelon salad.
As with yesterday’s recipe, fresh basil complements its costars. Yesterday, it was Thai basil, chosen for its mint and licorice flavors. Today, we’re using sweet basil (purple or green), the “regular” kind used in Italian and some Southeast Asian cuisines.
Other types of basil include:
- Lemon basil, whose citrus notes complement African and Southern Asian dishes
- Holy basil, popular in Thai meat dishes (but different from Thai basil)
- African blue basil, known for its oddly camphor-like scent; often used in salads
Use a melon baller, readily available at supermarkets and mass merchandisers, to create perfectly round melon balls.
Fresh Mozzarella Watermelon Salad with Basil
Makes 6 to 8 servings
2 cups seeded small watermelon balls
2 cups fresh mozzarella pieces
1 cup freshly chopped sweet basil (purple or green)
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Assorted baby greens (lettuces)
8 pieces crostini (lightly toasted bread)
Balsamic vinegar, as desired
- Toss together the watermelon, mozzarella, basil, scallions and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve over a bed of baby greens, with crostini on the side.
- Drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar over the top, if desired.
Recipe and photo courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board
Read More:Fresh Mozzarella Watermelon Salad with Basil
February 26th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
As noted yesterday, chefs in restaurants nationwide are creating a study in contrasts by pairing sweet watermelon with salty cheeses like feta.
In the first of our weekend recipes, Thai basil’s subtle mint flavor adds a refreshing touch.
Prep time is 10 minutes, refrigeration time is 30 minutes, and all of the ingredients should be available at a well-stocked natural and organic food store.
Tune in tomorrow for a bonus salad recipe.
Watermelon Salad with Thai Basil and Feta
Makes 8 servings
6 cups cubed seeded watermelon (1-inch chunks)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped Thai basil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
- Toss watermelon and Thai basil in large bowl. Cover. Refrigerate 30 minutes to blend flavors.
- Meanwhile, mix oil, vinegar, sea salt and sugar in medium bowl with wire whisk until well blended.
- Divide watermelon mixture among 8 salad plates. Drizzle each with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette.
- Sprinkle with cheese and onion. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving: 133 calories, 9 g fat, 3 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 8 mg cholesterol, 286 mg sodium, 1 g fiber
Recipe and photo courtesy of McCormick
Read More:Watermelon Salad with Thai Basil and Feta
February 25th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
We generally think of organic watermelon as a summertime snack, but this juicy treat is available year-round.
It may surprise you to learn that watermelon is a vegetable because it’s part of the cucumber and squash family—a classification that remains controversial.
Composed of 92% water and 8% sugar, watermelon has long been recognized as a weight watcher’s BFF. A half-cup serving of diced watermelon has only 25 calories and meets 10% of your daily vitamin C requirement.
Some of the latest research shows watermelon contains high concentrations of lycopene, an antioxidant that may help reduce cancer risk. In addition, a 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture study cited watermelon’s role in cardiovascular health, with amino acids that help maintain arteries and blood flow.
There are more than 50 U.S. watermelon varieties, available with red, orange or yellow flesh. The four most popular categories are:
- AllSweet: 20–25 pounds, red flesh, oblong shape, dark green rind (with or without stripes); best served “as-is,” simply sliced and eaten
- Ice-Box: 5–15 pounds, red or yellow flesh, round shape, dark or light green rind; great for cooking/recipes
- Seedless: 10–25 pounds, red or yellow flesh, oval to round shape, light green rind with dark green stripes; ideal for beverages and sorbets
- Yellow Flesh: 10–30 pounds, yellow to bright-orange flesh, oblong to long shape, light green rind with mottled stripes; use in kebobs and garnishes
One of the newest pairings on restaurant menus is watermelon and cheese, a trend borrowed from Mediterranean cuisine. Tune in tomorrow and Saturday for two such delectable recipes.
In the meantime, enjoy these recipes from our organic blog:
Photo courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board
Read More:Help Your Heart with Watermelon
July 14th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
July 3rd, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Yesterday, I provided tips on selecting a juicy organic watermelon. Today, we feature a Fourth of July recipe for a festive Americana Basket.
All of the ingredients should be available at your local natural and organic food store.
1 oblong-shaped watermelon
- Using an oblong watermelon, slice 1/4″ off the bottom, lengthwise, to provide stable base.
- Use a pencil to draw lines for handle placement and basket opening.
- Cut the handle first, wide enough to hold stars; then make zigzag cuts with a paring knife, all the way through the rind. Be careful not to cut through the handle base on either side.
- Carefully remove sections, pulling out large chunks of flesh. Cut them into 3” x 3” squares.
- From squares, trim off 3/4” thick slices to cut out stars. Use 1½” to 3” star-shaped cookie cutters to create them.
Next, cut out 5 large star-shaped pieces from the leftover rind. Use a paring knife, if necessary, for the handle. Trim off red flesh, and attach to basket handle with white side out, using half toothpicks.
- Use an ice cream scoop to remove flesh from inside of basket, and cut scoops into quarters for the fruit salad. Place in bottom of the basket.
- Use a white-fleshed melon like ripe honeydew to cut out white “stripes” for salad.
- Garnish top of fruit salad with watermelon stars, melon stripes and blueberries.
Recipe and photos courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board
Read More:Americana Basket